Walking on Veterans Day


After a week of dealing with a cold, your blogger desired a nice, relaxed walk in Austin, Texas. After a nice night sleep, I rose early and headed up Fourth Street to Congress, as the city was preparing for its' Veteran's Day celebration...

I had scheduled a relaxed, ninety minute walk, down Congress, and up around the state Capital. I was using my Ipod, and had prepared Sunday morning music, old Elton John songs. Starting with Elderberry Wine, then going to all the old B singles Elton did in the late sixties, and up to about Madman Across the Water.

There are two things that allow me to feel alive: painting and listening to music. Music was always around my home when I grew up. Either we had songs in the house or Dad would have us sing everything from Hank Williams to old Elvis songs. Music gives me comfort.

Veterans Day, November 11, started with the Armistice Day in 1918, after the Great War. In towns and cities, big and small, the day is meant to pay respects to the men and women who have served their country. In Austin, as I walk through the various downtown neighborhoods, it is pretty obvious that many of the homeless in town are veterans.

As I walked through the neighborhoods of downtown Austin, I reflected on the supreme gift that a veteran gives. As I walked back down Congress, I watched many of the floats that came down the street. Battle of the Bulge, Gulf War I, Vietnam, Korea, Iraqui War 2, there were veterans from each conflict.

As I was ending my walk, I noticed a man, about fifty, with a limp, walking down the street in his beret, and U.S. Army jacket. He was airborne, and had several medals, of various conflicts on his lapel. As I caught up with him, I noticed one of the bikers who was prepraring to join the parade get off his cycle, come off the road, go over the veteran who I had noticed, and hug him, with a big smile. It was like he was greeting a long, lost friend.

There were several thousand Austinians on both sides of Congress Avenue, all ages, big families and small. I noticed a little girl clinging to the leg of a very large police officer,with a commanding presense. He was all smiles with her.

There were several groups on the parade path that had young families who were acknowledging their parents' current status in Iraq or Afghanistan.

After nearly an hour of watching the floats and groups follow the parade path, the parade ended, and the roads cleared.

I felt somehow slightly uneasy. The parade had made me feel safe and comforted that so many were recognizing the efforts of the few. The few had paid huge prices, some with their lives, some with their minds, never to recover...

In the end, I headed back to the Hilton Austin, ending my first trek this year into downtown Austin. What a great day!

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